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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

School districts across the U.S. are looking to add or expand frequent COVID-19 testing as a way to ensure in-person classes are safe.

Why it matters: Surveillance testing is uncommon overall, but is gaining a foothold in schools as local officials look to keep kids safe and reassure nervous staff and parents.

  • Routine surveillance testing can help make families and staff feel more comfortable with in-person instruction, said Jason Kelly, the CEO of Ginkgo Bioworks, a biotech company supplying tests to schools.
  • "Masks, ventilation, distancing is how you create a safe space and then regular testing is how you create confidence in your workers that you’ve done that," he said.

Where it stands: Atlanta Public Schools is investing $2 million in surveillance testing. Massachusetts is testing 300,000 students a week, ready to spend $5 million on tests.

  • Ginkgo has partnered with school districts in Massachusetts and Maryland to administer hundreds of thousands of PCR tests per week, at a cost of about $6 per student.
  • KIPP charter schools in Washington, D.C., are also using testing as part of their reopening plans.

Yes, but: Even with strong partnerships with the state and local health departments, smoothly running a large surveillance testing program takes a lot of staffing, funding and coordination.

  • School officials also need to spend time educating families and staff, said Donny Tiengtum, director of COVID support at KIPP DC.
  • "I often tell the staff and parents, routine testing does not prevent COVID from getting into our building," he said. "It is not gonna be a failsafe way to make sure no one gets COVID. It’s a way to help us identify as early as we can and hopefully be one of the mitigation efforts that prevents big spread in our building."

Go deeper: A worrying decline in COVID testing

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
3 mins ago - Economy & Business

IPO market holds firm amid stock market tumult

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The IPO market is doing its best Alfred E. Neuman impression so far this week, refusing to entertain everyone else's worries.

The big picture: Both the Dow and S&P 500 fell nearly 2% yesterday, as investors tried to measure the fallout of Chinese construction giant Evergrande defaulting on its $300 billion in liabilities.

2 hours ago - World

Sudanese government says it put down coup attempt

Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok (L) and Sovereign Council Chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Photo: Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty

The Sudanese government announced on Tuesday morning that its military and security services had foiled an attempted coup from within the country’s armed forces.

Why it matters: The apparent coup attempt comes with Sudan’s transitional government — in which power is shared between civilians and generals — facing crises on several fronts two years after dictator Omar al-Bashir was toppled in a popular uprising.

2 hours ago - Health

Johnson & Johnson says booster shot increases efficacy of COVID vaccine

Syringes and a vial of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine in French Polynesia on Sept. 8. Photo: Jerome Brouillet/AFP via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson said in a press release Tuesday a global study showed that the protection offered by its coronavirus vaccine was strengthened by a booster shot.

Why it matters: While J&J has not formally applied for authorization to offer booster shots to the general public, it said it has shared the results of the study with the Food and Drug Administration and plans to share it with the World Health Organization and other health regulators.